Evidence of the growth of social media is everywhere:
- In 2006, the Blogosphere had grown 100 times in three years, and accounted for 50 million blogs (Technorati, 2006).
- 57% of teens who use the Internet can be considered content producers in some way or another (Fox & Lenhart, 2006).
- More than half (55%) of all online American youths ages 12-17 use social networking sites (Lenhart & Madden, 2007).
- In April 2006, 35,000 new videos were being posted daily to YouTube and in February 2006, YouTube attracted 9 million visitors who viewed 176 million pages (Liedtke, 2006).
- Wikipedia consistently places in the top-10 results for Google searches on fortune-500 brand names (Fadner, 2006).
- User-driven - • Content is not controlled by editors, distributors and other outside influences but instead is primarily generated by the users themselves.
- Organic Content - • In social media, content is constantly being reshaped and repurposed. An article posted one day may be edited the next day, while a video may reappear mixed or “mashed” with another video days later.
- Community-oriented - • Collaboration, participation and shared interests are the foundation of all social media, creating a distinct community to each site.
- Easy to use - • Taking advantage of social media is simplified to be accessible for broad audiences, enabling anyone to post or share within the community, regardless of their technical training or aptitude.
New social media outlets have sprung up throughout the Internet, including:
- Social Networking sites
and anything else you would like to include. Second, social networking provides an opportunity to extend your personal network. Social networking sites allow you to extend your personal network, to include your friend’s and their friends. These sites have opened up the Web for users to socialize virtually. Creating your online persona, you are now ready to connect
with the people you choose with no geographical boundaries. Over time, the capabilities offered through social networking Web sites have become increasingly sophisticated, incorporating file sharing, instant messaging, forums and Blogs. With over 150 million users on MySpace alone, social networks have also become the single-most popular form of social media.
co-worker mentions that they had a similar idea months ago, so they snap their fingers and it suddenly appears on an adjacent white board. And so on and so on. Most wikis store each version of a document, allowing you to review versions to view the various modifications that a document has undergone over time. In many cases, there is an open discussion about the documents they are collaborating on. Wiki software drives Wikipedia, the world’s largest online encyclopedia and an increasingly influential online resource. Wikipedia’s rapid ascent is in large part a result of being completely user-driven. All of the content is collaboratively developed by writers and editors around the world.
- Media sharing sites
venture capital funding, which allowed them to accelerate its development. Fast-forward a little over a year and that small company called YouTube was sold to Google for $1.65 billion in stock. Due to their rapid and astronomically lucrative ascent, YouTube has become a household name and the leading example of a media sharing site.
While YouTube’s focus on video played a major role in their high market valuation, media sharing sites can involve various types of media including photography (e.g. Flickr) or news (e.g. Digg). Alternatively, they can focus on emerging media like Adobe Flash (e.g. Newgrounds) and even Web bookmarks (e.g. Del.icio.us).
Media sharing sites offer users the ability to upload and share different types of media. In addition to being platforms for sharing media, they are also distribution points for public consumption. Content on highly visible pages within the site, like the home page, are normally decided through democratic processes. The tagging process, in which a user adds descriptive information to a piece of content, allows users to share content (including multimedia content) that is not easily read by search engine crawlers.
Media sharing sites are not only about sharing media, but like all forms of social media, they are about sociability and dialogue.
Advantages of Social Media
Social media is important for a number of key reasons:
- Stickier than traditional media -• Social media has the potential to attract and hold the attention of a vast demographic of people who have grown numb to more traditional forms of marketing and advertising. According to a study conducted by InsightExpress, a market research firm, consumer trust in advertising has decreased 41% over the past three years (Elkin, 2005). Meanwhile social media engages consumers in a way that encourages trust and profoundly increases message retention. According to the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), 92% of consumers cite word of mouth as the best source of information on new product ideas.
- Viral Nature - • Social media has a tremendous viral capacity to reach wide audiences in just a short amount of time, a substantial opportunity and threat for communications professionals. While a well-placed outreach effort can reap tremendous rewards if executed properly, it can just as easily result in a negative viral outcome for organizations that were not properly prepared to deal with the ensuing firestorm. For example, Warner Brothers has attributed almost $100 million in revenue for March of the Penguins, to positive buzz generated from the independent podcast ‘Mommycast’ (Gillin, 2006). Whereas, Dan Rather can attribute his demise to Rathergate, when rumblings of unauthenticated documents spread throughout social media and ended up in the celebrated news mans early retirement.
- Interactive - • Traditionally, media organizations would make investments in research in order to assess the efficacy of their media efforts. Through social media, organizations can now communicate and get immediate feedback from users, encouraginga process of dialogue between user and organization. Enabling comments on a corporate blog, for example, has resulted in a positive impact for many organizations that have been able to gain valuable customer feedback from the practice.
- High visibility on the ‘Net'- • Social media has grown up on the ‘Net. As a result, social media holds a favorable positionfor visibility. Wikipedia is perhaps the most notable example of this phenomenon. Spannerworks, a search engine marketing specialist, recently reported that social media platform Wikipedia appears in the top 20 Google search results for 88 percent of searches for the top 100 global brands (Mayfield, 2007).
Social media has significantly altered the world of media unlike any other medium. With its viral, informal and unedited format, it will continue to grow and change and present new opportunities for both public relations and traditional journalists. The integration of social media into the overall media landscape represents a new challenge for PR professionals.
For full report of Social Marketing and Public Relations go to Optimize your Public Relations with Social Marketing by Vocus White Paper.